Did the patient write down the questions they have before you start. Many patients may become distracted, and a telehealth consult that does not follow the proper set guidelines can lead to an hour-long chat. If the patient has specific questions ready and written down, they will be able to ask the doctor about their concerns, and also make sure that they don’t forget any of them.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is the dramatic growth of Telehealth and Telemedicine. But how can doctors and providers best care for their patients when they are not physically in front of them? What do doctors wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office? How can Telehealth approximate and even improve upon the healthcare that traditional doctors’ visits can provide?
In this interview series, called “Telehealth Best Practices; How To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You” we are talking to successful Doctors, Dentists, Psychotherapists, Counselors, and other medical and wellness professionals who share lessons and stories from their experience about the best practices in Telehealth. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingDr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center.
Dr. Conrad is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Team Chiropractor for the Blackthorn Rugby Team. He is the owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center, which has served the North Wales PA community for over 21 years. His office has provided chiropractic care and postural therapeutic exercise to our patients for 21 years with Telehealth consults, and has contributed to many online publications on the benefits of telehealth and work space ergonomics.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was injured in a skiing accident in high school, and chiropractic care helped me get back to full health after the injury. Later in college while playing rugby, I had injured my leg during a game, and once again chiropractic care helped me not only get back to playing, but helped me improve my sports endurance. I decided that this was what I wanted to do for my career.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
As the Team Chiropractor for the Blackthorn Rugby Club, I was helping one of the players who injured his back. He was unsure if he would able to play the following week for the playoffs, so we got him in for treatment a few times that week to work on range of motion, reducing spasm, and improving flexibility. That weekend he scored 5 times in the game, his personal career best, and they won the game. He stated that was all due to chiropractic.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
We tell our patients “Stay active with chiropractic care”. Whether its playing sports, or improving someone’s posture, our combination of flexibility training and therapeutic exercise helps keep our patients moving and in less pain. Many patients are able to continue exercising and miss less work due to our chiropractic services, and they appreciate that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My father was a high school teacher, and he was always there to help out a student, or a friend, or a family member who needed help. Sometimes the best teacher is the one who listens to your problems. I take that type of dedication with my patients as well, and I believe it has made me a better person as a result.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how doctors treat their patients. Many doctors have started treating their patients remotely. Telehealth can of course be very different than working with a patient that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity because it allows more people access to medical professionals, but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a patient in front of you?
For chiropractic, it is much easier to do an examination when the patient is there in your physical office. Whether it’s a postural analysis, or checking a range of motion of an injured area, having the patient in your office setting is usually a more efficient examination for sure.
On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a patient is not in the same space as the doctor?
Even though telehealth allows a greater audience who can not get to your office due to many reasons, there are challenges that arise for a chiropractic telehealth consult. We usually review these topics with the patient at the beginning of the consult, as we feel it helps avoid any setbacks during the session which can distract from the patient’s telehealth experience. Such topics as having a room with the tv or radio turned off, for example, will help prevent background noise. This way the doctor can focus on your questions clearly, and help avoid any confusion during the consult.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You ? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Did the patient write down the questions they have before you start. Many patients may become distracted, and a telehealth consult that does not follow the proper set guidelines can lead to an hour-long chat. If the patient has specific questions ready and written down, they will be able to ask the doctor about their concerns, and also make sure that they don’t forget any of them.
- What symptoms are they having? Having some symptoms discussed before the telehealth consult can help the doctor focus on your condition, and be better prepared to discuss some treatment options with you. If a patient has suffered from headaches for years, for example, and they are having a similar episode, then the doctor may be able to review his previous office notes to become more familiar with how the patient has responded to previous exacerbation of this condition.
- How long have the symptoms been bothering you? If this is something that has been only a few hours, or is a chronic reoccurring condition, these are questions that help the doctor answer what type of treatment is recommended. If it’s a twisted ankle from only a few hours ago which is swelling, then ice would be recommended instead of heat to help reduce the swelling. Time related to the injury can be a helpful question which can determine types of recommended treatment options.
- How did the injury happen? Onset of an injury is important for a chiropractic telehealth patient. If it’s a recent onset injury, stretching may be recommended and demonstrated during the consult, where as a chronic poor posture from repetitive computer work many need strengthening exercises to address the problem. Knowing the type of injury can help improve the telehealth experience.
- What have you tried so far for the injury, and what was the result? The patient may have iced the area, and now the swelling may look decreased as a result. It is important to know what they have already done at home for the condition, so that you many offer the best possible diagnosis while having all the important related information to consider.
Can you share a few ways that Telehealth can create opportunities or benefits that traditional in-office visits cannot provide? Can you please share a story or give an example?
During the pandemic, many patients were unable to leave their houses and come into the office. Some had challenged immune systems, some were no longer going in to the office which was near where we work. By offering telehealth services, we are able to help a wider range of patient injuries and offer advice and treatment options to people that would have suffered without these recommendations.
Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help facilitate Telehealth. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?
For chiropractic, the convenience of telehealth has helped so many while they work from home. Many people have a home work space computer, which makes telehealth possible. Being able to evaluate someone’s posture, for example, instead of just having them explain it over the phone has helped the overall patient experience. Sometimes through visual observation you can detect something that the patient has overlooked, which can help in the recovery process.
If you could design the perfect Telehealth feature or system to help your patients, what would it be?
No complaints with the current telehealth systems at this time.
Are there things that you wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office?
We recommend patient writing down their questions to have a focused consult. Also having others in the house aware that they will be talking to the doctor, and are not to be disturbed. Having someone walking around in the background, or playing loud music, or talking on their cell phone will take away from the telehealth experience, and the patient may not get to all of their questions which they had.
Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The most important topic I would want more people to be aware of is how chiropractic care with stretching and exercise can help improve your quality of life. Many people are quick to take a pain reliever which only covers up the symptoms, where as chiropractic care can help improve pain, reduce stress, and help your body work more efficiently. With the opoid crisis continuing today, many people are turning to forms of alternative medicine including chiropractic care.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My office contributes to many online publications on health, diet, exercise and computer ergonomics. You can follow our latest contributions on our website, https://montcochiro.com
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.